Seoul cool to China six-party talks idea

Dirk Godder

Seoul/Beijing (dpa) – China on Sunday proposed an emergency meeting of the six-party group on North Korea in an apparent bid to help defuse tensions on the peninsula, but Seoul in an initial response was cool to the idea.

The South Korean Foreign Ministry said the Beijing proposal should be examined “very carefully” and went on to blame North Korea for a series of provocations which had impacted negatively on the efforts to create the conditions for a resumption of the six-party talks.

Before such talks could resume, Pyongyang had to undertake concrete steps towards dismantling its nuclear programme, Seoul said.

“We again urge North Korea to show its denuclearization willingness through action,” the ministry said.

Seoul’s remarks came after China’s special envoy for the Korean Peninsula, Wu Dawei, convened a press conference in Beijing to propose that the chief negotiators from North and South Korea, the United States, China, Japan and Russia should meet early December in Beijing.

China made it clear that the talks would not be a resumption of the six-party dialogue, focussed on the dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program, which stalled in April 2009.

The call comes amid tensions after last week’s artillery exchange between North and South Korea in which four South Koreans were killed on the island of Yeonpyeong.

The security jitters continued Sunday amid the start of major joint naval exercises by the United States and South Korea in the Yellow Sea. China expressed concern about the excercises, while North Korea blasted them as being a provocation.